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Spice World’s Hymel sees increasing trend toward convenience

During the 44 years that Louis Hymel has been in the garlic industry and has been working at Spice World Inc. in Orlando, FL, he has seen many trends and changes in the industry. Among them is a trend toward “new convenient ways consumers get to use garlic,” he said.

“I have really seen the evolution of garlic from the days of being able to buy whole bulbs and take them home and peel them to having the convenience having peeled garlic in your refrigerator to having the convenience of ready-to-use garlic to having now the convenience of the squeeze garlic,” Hymel told The Produce News July 19.

Whole fresh garlic is “one of those items that you need a little time to process in the kitchen,” he said. “And if you can just open a jar and spoon it out, or squeeze it out, it is just a convenience to the consumer.” The result is that “people use more.”

Spice World, which offers garlic in whole fresh, fresh peeled and various processed forms, introduced its Squeeze Garlic, a minced garlic in a convenient, easy-to-use squeeze bottle, about three years ago.

“We know garlic is an item that people love, and they also love buying it in convenient ways,” Hymel said. “Whether it is the ready-to-use or the new squeeze bottle, it makes it easy for people to use garlic.” Because of that convenience, “people wind up using more garlic when they are cooking.”

Until the ready-to-use garlic “came around,” people would find, sometimes, that “maybe they didn’t have fresh garlic at their home” when they wanted to use some. But “nowadays there is no reason for a household never to have garlic in the kitchen,” he said.

“We have seen that people have really accepted that product,” Hymel continued. “We in the beginning boldly said we were taking garlic from an ingredient, which garlic has always been … to a condiment” and that people would now “literally take a bottle of Squeeze Garlic’with them on a picnic and squeeze it directly onto their burgers on the grill, or squeeze it onto a salad.” And they have done just that.

Spice World has garlic growing and packing operations in California and a processing plant in Florida. The company also handles garlic from other producing areas, but “basically being a California garlic growers, we are always pushing California garlic” and striving to produce the best quality product available, Hymel said.

This year’s crop looks good, he said, and the quality of the California will be at least as good as Chinese garlic if not superior, h e said.

The harvest was under way, and currently “we are windrowing the garlic, so it is out drying in the fields,” he said.

Spice World is 100 percent vertical in its garlic production, “from having our own seed program to our own production crop” and doing “pretty much 100 percent of the processing,” Hymel said. The company is always looking for ways “to produce the most convenient products” for retailers and consumers.

In addition, “we are always looking for more efficiencies, and we are always looking for more sustainability in everything that we do,” he said.

In the California facility, “we have increased storage capacity in the last year,” he said.

In the food-safety arena, “we have achieved the highest grades that a company can achieve” in field and packinghouse audits, he said.